Demand Generation is Failing

Part 5 of the “Modern B2B Marketing in the Era of the Empowered Buyer Content Stream”

(Infographic below)

Why is demand generation not working for most organizations? Where are enterprise marketers failing with their demand generation efforts?

Let’s take a look at modern demand generation.  Despite the increasing complexity of demand generation, we can still distill best practices down to these seven, basic principles.

Find ways to break through the B2B marketing clutter
How can you break through to the modern empowered B2B buyer, which now includes the generational segment of Millennials? Marcus Starke, CMO of Ciena, writes: “There’s no reason why B2B marketing should be boring. Instead, your content should be as engaging, exciting and creative as anybody’s marketing, whether you’re selling technology or consumer products. People want to get excited and make connections, understand and be understood.”

Content strategy is essential to content marketing
Most modern B2B marketers have embraced content marketing, yet few have a documented content strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing Study of 2015, only 35% of marketers have documented content strategy. It’s really no surprise that the 35% who properly documented their content strategy are “more effective in all aspects of content marketing than those who don’t.” And it’s more than just having a strategy, it’s really about what ingredients you used to create that strategy.

Learn more about your customer through buyer personas to create relevant, compelling content
In the Demand Gen Marketo 2015 study, they found: “Marketers are adopting personas as a significant tool in their demand generation strategy, as just a little more than one quarter (27%) reported that their personas are well documented and aligned to their messaging and 31% of respondents reported that they do not have personas in place, but plan to build them in the coming year.” In addition to personas, marketers are using the insights gleaned from harvesting mountains of marketing data to enable their organizations to learn more about their customers; some are even able to accomplish this in real time. KERN has developed what we call “the evolution of the marketing persona” in our new persona development process: Progressive Persona Profiling. See more about Progressive Persona Profiling here.

People buy things, businesses don’t. Create personalized content strategically placed where people are likely to consume it.
Bryan Kramer, author of Human to Human: #H2H, states: “There is no B2B or B2C—it’s human to human (H2H) marketing.” Kramer goes on to say:  “The fact is that businesses do not have emotion. Products do not have emotion. Humans do. Humans want to feel something. And humans make mistakes.”

The value and power of the brand can convey both logical and emotional perceptions of the brand, to serve as a halo to the sales organization and eCommerce sites. In a 2015 study, McKinsey states: “In fact, decision makers consider the brand a central rather than a marginal element of a supplier’s proposition. Our survey indicates that a company’s brand is on par with sales as an influencing factor.”

Branding conveys emotions about a company’s services and products. Strong brands convey trust and confidence. Branding and brand storytelling is important in the age of H2H marketing. Branding helps human salespeople tell compelling stories to human buyers.

In Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, “61% of respondents said they selected vendors who delivered a mix of content that was appropriate for each stage of their buying process.” It is important for marketers to create content relevant to buyers’ needs at each stage of their journey. Learn more about KERN’s 10-Stage Modern Buyer’s Journey and our philosophies and processes regarding creating a relevant and compelling content strategy here.

Things have changed. Today, there is no such thing as “digital marketing”; rather, there is now “marketing in a digital world.” Placing the content where people can see it requires organizations to rethink their B2B media marketing to include the latest in available media purchase strategies, such as contextual targeting, behavioral targeting, programmatic display, Facebook Exchange, content syndication, site retargeting, social graph targeting, native advertising, online video, paid social, search retargeting, e-mail, search engine marketing and look-alike modeling.

Use marketing automation to drive engagement and nurture prospects
Marketing automation was once a “nice-to-have” and is now a “must-have.” An organization’s ability to nurture both prospects and customers through automated e-mail streams is essential for marketing organizations to attempt to stay “top of mind.” And, marketing automation needs companion pieces of technology to fully realize the potential that it needs to be connected to. Marketing technology is a huge field, with hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors now competing for every marketing technology dollar. What’s in your tech stack? Does it deliver on the promise of moving your organization forward by harnessing your big data and creating actionable insights for your team to consider when planning new strategies or optimizing current strategies?

Pass leads that meet lead-scoring criteria or BANT to sales when leads become MQL, SQL or SAL
Here is an area where we see many organizations falling short.-It should be simple, but the inability to define a lead, a marketing-qualified lead, a sales-accepted lead and a sales-qualified lead causes marketing teams to fail. The road to failure starts with the wrong usage of the word “lead.” What is a lead? Is a tradeshow attendee a lead? NO! A clear and concise definition of leads, suspects, prospects and opportunities must be created with a culture of universal understanding of each definition firmly in place throughout the organization, as the very first step. Without a clear and precise definition, creating scoring criteria is impossible. Organizations are consistently frustrated when trying to define the various stages of qualified leads, and this is causing only a few of the leads that they deem “qualified” to actually convert into sales. How “qualified” are these leads that convert between 3% and 5% to sales? Probably not that qualified.

Route qualified leads to sales for conversion to customers
It seems simple enough: create scoring criteria, score leads until they meet or exceed the criteria threshold, then pass those leads to sales. However, even here, complexities abound—especially for organizations with multiple sales channels. When dealing with VARs (Value-Added Resellers), distributors, channel partners, installers, implementers and the like, organizations are generally routing their leads into a black hole vortex of unknown results, which always translates into an organization’s inability to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of their marketing efforts. It is impossible to prove return on investment when this “leads go into the black hole vortex” dynamic is present in your sales process. There are software solutions that can help organizations with channel partners route and track leads; however, we’re often surprised that organizations with this problem don’t seek the software solution to it.

For organizations that can track their direct sales specifically, the routing of leads can be derailed for a variety of other reasons. Perhaps the lead scoring wasn’t correct in the first place; or sales was never on board with the entire lead-definition process; or sales is distrustful of leads being sent over by marketing; or the entire lead-distribution process is broken, since sales insists on receiving a certain quantity of leads, whether those leads are ready or not.

Let’s take a look at where we believe enterprise marketers are failing with demand generation.

Inability to realize the importance of brand
B2B marketers who underestimate the power of brands in business-to-business decision making put their organizations at a substantial disadvantage.

Learning that creating effective content is a challenge
Only 38% of B2B marketers find that their content marketing is effective and of that 38%, only 8% believe that their content is highly effective, as reported in a 2015 study by the Content Marketing Institute.

Failure to acknowledge and focus on marketing to groups
In a complex B2B sales environment, there are multiple stakeholders and decision makers causing the buying “group” to behave in an unpredictable way.

Unwillingness to realize that current media strategies are obsolete
Never before have marketers had so many channels to choose from. Therein lies the challenge: how can marketers predict which channels are likely to have the greatest impact, especially for those challenged with limited budgets to test new channels?

Failure to address the entire demand generation ecosystem
Many organizations take a narrow point of view when assessing or diagnosing their demand generation system. However, to truly understand what’s working and what isn’t, organizations need to assess the entire demand generation ecosystem.

Failure to focus on the entire B2B customer relationship
It’s time to expand the focus of B2B engagement to the entire customer relationship, including loyalty and retention, which are not traditional priorities for B2B marketers.

Throughout the Summer of ’15, various types of content will be produced to tell you this story.

In the next installment of Modern B2B Marketing in the Era of the Empowered Buyer, we take an opportunity to provide the Modern B2B Buyer with a voice- in a piece we call: “The B2B Empowered Buyers Manifesto”

Stay tuned right here on for the continuation of the content stream presentation.


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